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The Huntsville bat warehouse

I love stories like this, even when they leave me wanting more.

Hundreds of thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats streamed out of the abandoned brick building on a recent weeknight, leaving behind the burned-out structure where they’ve stayed for many summers — and which state prison officials for years sought to tear down.

The bats flew right past eight large bat houses, marked with bat logos, where officials had hoped the creatures would relocate several years ago. They didn’t. Some say the Texas Department of Criminal Justice bungled the effort.

What to do about these free-tailed bats, which draw extra attention around Halloween, is again up for debate. TDCJ and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in coming weeks will renew talks about how to get them out.

Knocking down the building with bats inside could kill them. But if the building is torn down when they leave for winter, the bats will search for new homes when they return. That scenario would make for bat mayhem of sorts in Huntsville, about an hour’s drive north of Houston, where TDCJ is headquartered.

Bats can wriggle into a hole the size of one’s pinky finger, explained Fran Hutchins, of Bat Conservation International, or BCI. So bats could end up in attics and under porches of nearby homes — anywhere with a small opening. There’s also the nearby Sam Houston State University dormitories.

And it would be a lot of bats searching for where to go. Some 750,000 of them may call the warehouse home.

Said Hutchins: “They’ve got to sleep somewhere.”

The story includes a link to this article from 2017 about those bat houses, which were built by TDCJ inmates for the purpose of, you know, housing the bats. What we don’t learn is why those bat houses failed in that task, and now I’m deeply curious. In the meantime, I say keep the old warehouse. Surely there’s no better purpose for it than those bats.

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One Comment

  1. David Fagan says:

    4 days and counting……